With the Ryder Cup almost here, many Canary Wharf workers will be excited to see the latest showdown between America and Europe, as the world goes golf crazy for this biennial face-off.
The 2016 tournament is sure to be a riveting, competitive contest, with America keen to finally wrest the title back following three losses to the Europeans.
But as well as providing entertainment on screen, many Docklands folk will be inspired to take up the game for themselves.
The Golf Lab, based at Third Space gym above Waitrose in Canary Wharf , was started in order to help progress golfers of all abilities, whether beginner, intermediate or experienced.
Here, head professional John McCartney gives his top tips on how to get started and what the lab can offer.
What should I do first if I decide to start playing golf?
Our recommendation is to get a beginner to try golf as quickly as possible on a golf course to some degree.
It doesn’t have to be a championship course but they should go and try it on some level so they can see what it’s about and see if it’s something they want to progress further.
What should I do if I want to become a competent player?
We recommend about 20 hours, half practice and half tuition so you can have enough skill and information on how the course works to go out play golf and be able to enjoy it.
You need to continue playing and continue practicing. It’s like any skill, the more you keep doing it, the more you confident you will get and the more you will keep improving.
What’s your advice on buying my first set of golf clubs?
I would say that an expensive and high quality set, although nice to have, wouldn’t give you huge benefits because your first set is going to take a battering (hitting the floor when you learn to swing).
So I would recommend something mid-range, so it’s good quality but not expensive.
What should I be focusing on?
The main skill that we teach first is full swing because it’s the hardest skill and putting is relatively easy - not becoming a really good putter but you aren’t going to lose a golf ball putting, I hope.
With the full swing you could be there hitting the ground, missing the ball and it could become unenjoyable.
The very basics of what we have to do is create speed to create the distance, so you need to focus on creating a pivot and you have to find a way to hit the same part of the ground every time.
Other skills we focus on include adaptability, different clubs, different lie angles and different environments. Once you have those basics you are ready to move onto the course.
How many holes should I do when I first go onto the course?
I would say that nine holes is plenty for a beginner because it takes about two hours and that is quite a lot of concentration for someone who has just started.
What if I want to join a club?
Convenience for clubs is really key because it makes it more likely that they will play regularly. I would suggest trying out the local clubs to see if you like the atmosphere. If they know friends then that helps. Most clubs are quite open now, they will give you a trial so it’s much easier now then it used to be.
What do you offer?
What we do is give everyone a 30-minute free trial and we discuss what they would like to do and give a few recommendations on what they would like to book in.
We have everything here (clubs, balls) and we have a camera that captures you as you swing so people coming to practice by themselves can review the video to learn and improve.
What are the benefits of starting in the Golf Lab?
It’s useful to have a segregated area where you can practice yourself. It’s not social so there’s no stigma with people worrying about how they look in front of other players.
It takes out all the emotional factors that can stop people from improving. Learning is a process of failing and improving, it’s very hard to do that in a social atmosphere so we provide a zone where you can go through the process of failing and when you feel ready you can take it onto more social places like the golf course.
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